My First March

Image by Fiona Del Rio. Toronto Women's March. Jan. 21, 2017.

There was a point last weekend when I Skyped with my mom who lives in San Francisco. She asked, “How was the march?” and I could not for the life of me come up with an answer that felt right. Inspiring? Sure. Powerful? Absolutely! But what specifically did it give me that I didn’t have before? On further reflection, I think I’ve figured it out.

Feminism is often a solitary thing. The work of feminism usually happens when you’re alone. When you patiently explain to a group of men why some word they used is offensive and they all act like you’re being unreasonable, you feel alone. The reminders of why we need feminism also happen when you're alone. When you brush off the creep who propositions you at 2am and then look back to check whether he’s still following you, quite often, you're alone.

That’s why we gather with groups of like-minded people who remind us that we’re not over-reacting, that we do deserve to be treated equally, and that we can trust ourselves to know what’s right and what isn’t. After a long day (or week, month, year, decade, lifetime) spent navigating a world that tells us our needs and opinions and skills are worth less, we need solidarity and validation. We need to lift each other up, bring one another back to centre, and refuel before getting back out there. 

Image credit: Judy Pham

When I wonder how much of a difference our march will make, I remember that it’s not just about showing the world how many of us there are and how hard we will fight for equal rights; it’s also about reminding each other. Reminding ourselves. By showing up and standing together, we give each other the fuel we need to keep working: to keep having difficult conversations with the ‘unwoke’ (so to speak), to keep acknowledging and checking our privilege, and to keep confronting oppression.

So the next time I Skype my Mom, I’ll tell her that the march was exactly what I needed.


Katie Bell loves board games, hugs, and talking about intersectional feminism. She wrote and performed a one-woman show about depression called "You Are (Not) Dead" for Toronto Fringe in 2016, and is trying to get her other creative writing projects from the back burner to the...front burner? Most days you can find her writing for entrepreneurs who love what they do but hate writing. Words are important.